[MARMAM] Allocare in sperm whales

Shane Gero sgero at dal.ca
Tue Jun 2 06:51:32 PDT 2009

Dear Marmamers,


We are pleased to announce the publication of the following article in
Behavioral Ecology:

Shane Gero, Dan Engelhaupt, Luke Rendell, and Hal Whitehead (2009) Who
Cares? Between-group variation in alloparental caregiving in sperm whales


Although the details of the various systems of allocare in primates,
rodents, and carnivores have been well described, little is known about the
existence of alloparental care in cetaceans. It is believed that the
matrilineal social organization of the sperm whale functions to provide
vigilant allomothers for calves at the surface while mothers make deep dives
for food. Sperm whale females do have a system of allocare, but details are
unknown. This study aimed to elucidate sperm whale allocare, in particular:
who escorts whose calf and whether or not calves suckle from nonparent
females. Using photo identification and behavioral calf follows, we examined
patterns of adult-infant interactions for 23 sperm whale calves in the
Sargasso and Caribbean Seas. Although multiple individuals of both sexes
escorted the calves, the system of escorting differed between the 2 sites.
For all calves studied in the Caribbean, we found that 1 female provided
most of the allocare but did not nurse the calf, whereas in the Sargasso,
multiple females provided care for, and nursed, the young. We discuss
differences between populations that may have resulted in the observed
differences in these 2 systems of allocare and how these findings fit with
current hypotheses on the roles of kin selection and reciprocal altruism in
cooperative care in mammals.


The article may be downloaded directly from the Behavioral
eytype=ref>  Ecology website


Otherwise please contact me for preprints.






Shane Gero, M.Sc.

NSERC Ph.D. Candidate

Killam Scholar

Whitehead Lab

Biology Dept.

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

B3H 4J1 Canada


Tel: (902) 494-3723

Fax: (902) 494-3736

sgero at dal.ca



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